Thursday 14 December 2017

Sinn Fein walk out of Dail over €700m Anglo bond repayment reporters

MEMBERS of Sinn Fein dramatically walked out of the Dail today following the government's refusal to allow a debate on the repayment of the unsecured, unguaranteed €700m bond to Anglo Irish Bank bondholders.

Finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said the government had shown "contempt for the opposition" by refusing to have a debate on the issue.

"We were asking them to have a proper debate on the merits of handing over such a large sum," Mr Doherty.

When that wasn't allowed he said that Gerry Adams had ordered the Sinn Fein members to leave the chamber as a mark of protest.

Mr Doherty said one thing they had got out of proceedings was hearing Taoiseach Enda Kenny admit there was no legal requirement on the government to make the repayments which came due today.

A second bond payout of over €1bn will also be due next January.

Earlier Mr Kenny came under fire in the Dail today over the controversial repayment of the €700m bond.

He sustained attacks from opposition leaders from Fianna Fail’s Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams over the payment which is due today.

Mr Martin said the Fine Gael led government had “failed to deliver” to the Irish people and is misleading them in relation to the bank.

But the Taoiseach hit back at Mr Martin reminding him of the role Fianna Fail played in the economic slowdown and the banking crisis.

“I thank Minister Martin for his history lesson but he left out some important details,” he said.

“We have not been able to unravel agreements made by your government when €17bn in payments were made to Anglo bondholders.”

“We are getting a €10bn reduction in interest rates and this will not be possible if we default on the Anglo Irish Bank debt.”

The Taoiseach also refused to answer a direct question from Deputy Shane Ross that the Government asked the European Central Bank directly about the repayment.

And he conceded that the payments were not part of memorandum of understanding with the EU/IMF/ECB troika bailout package but he highlighted that they were part of an agreement made by previous Government.

Later Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore criticised Sinn Fein and said it does not have a credible alternative.

"They’re offering no alternatives," he said.

"The reality here is that we have a serious difficulty.

"As a country, we are working to renegotiate the terms of the arrangements that were entered into by the last Government – that’s not something that can be done overnight."

Meanwhile, the former director of Anglo Irish Bank, who was arrested yesterday in connection with fraud, has been released without charge.

Willie McAteer (60) was released after he was arrested at his home and questioned by gardai who are probing financial irregularities at the rogue bank.

He was arrested by officers from the garda National Fraud Bureau under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act. Mr McAteer is one of several former executives at Anglo who took out directors' loans which are being investigated.

It is the second time he has been arrested and questioned after further information came to light.

Although both banking bosses have previously been questioned, the legislation permits further questioning if new information is discovered.

That additional information was put to Mr McAteer at Irishtown garda station yesterday.

Meanwhile, Anglo chairman Sean FitzPatrick is expected to be questioned again within days after fraud detectives arrested a former Anglo director for a second time.

Gardai are also expected to reinterview Mr FitzPatrick and put new information to him. He has already been arrested and questioned twice to date, in March 2010 and then again in March of this year.

Last night Mr FitzPatrick declined to comment on the arrest of his former colleague, as did the family of Mr McAteer.

Anglo -- which is now known as Irish Bank Resolution Corporation Limited (IBRC) -- has pursued Mr FitzPatrick over more than €70m in unpaid directors' loans.

Earlier this year the Irish Independent revealed that Mr McAteer had ringfenced his family home in Rathgar, Dublin, and his pension in case he stopped paying back his director's loans.

The exclusion clause was allegedly contained in a side agreement to a multimillion-euro loan which Mr McAteer took out in January 2009 when the bank was in turmoil. The clause was revealed in court papers lodged in Ireland by ex-Anglo CEO David Drumm.

A number of other former senior Anglo officials may also be questioned and the interviews will complete the garda side of the investigation.

This has been conducted alongside the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) since February 2009. To date the ODCE has submitted three files to the DPP.


The garda National Fraud Bureau has also submitted files to the DPP arising out of its inquiries into suspected criminal offences at Anglo.

A further comprehensive submission will be made by the gardai in the coming weeks after Mr McAteer, Mr FitzPatrick and a number of others have been re-interviewed.

Meanwhile, former Anglo chief executive David Drumm has ignored all requests to come back from the United States for interview. However, gardai have sent a file on him to the DPP and a prosecution can still be made if the evidence is there to warrant it.

The ODCE is expected to have substantially completed its inquiries by the end of the year when it sends in a file on Anglo's financial statements in 2008 and previous years.

The DPP will examine the ODCE and garda files in tandem and decide whether there should be a prosecution.

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